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Chapter 2 – From 1662 to 1681

Sevaji’s rupture with the Moguls

About the end of 1662, AH 1075

It was about this period that Aurangzib was attacked by the violent sickness which exposed his life to so much danger280. He had previously appointed his maternal uncle, Shaista, Khan, to the viceroyalty of the Deckan, and that officer was now residing at Aurangabad.

It does not appear what led to an open rupture between Sevaji and the Moguls; but soon after the peace with Bijapur we find Sevaji’s horse ravaging their country nearly to Aurangabad, and himself taking their forts in the neighbourhood of Juner.

Shaista Khan marches against him Occupies Puna

To put an end to these aggressions, Shaista Khan marched from Aurangabad, drove Sevaji’s army out of the field, took the fort of Chakan, and finally took up his ground at Puna, within twelve miles of Singhar, the hill fort into which Sevaji had retired. At Puna, Shaista occupied the house in which Sevaji had passed his early days; and it was probably the local knowledge thus acquired that suggested a plan for chastising the intruder.

Night exploit of Sevaji

The khan had taken every precaution to guard against the advance of troops, and also against the admission

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of Marattas individually into the town; and in these circumstances, and with his troops cantoned around him, he thought himself as secure as if he were in a peaceful country. But Sevaji, who was well aware of all that was passing, left Singhar one evening after dark, and, posting small bodies of infantry on the road to support him, went on with twenty-five Mawalis to the town. He gained admission by joining a marriage procession, with the conductor of which he had a previous concert. Being now within the line of guards, he proceeded direct to the house, and entered by a back door before any person within had a suspicion of danger. So completely was Shaista Khan surprised, that he had barely time to escape from his bedchamber, and received a blow from a sword which cut off two of his fingers as he was letting himself down from a window into the court below. His son and most of his attendants were cut to pieces in a moment. Sevaji’s retreat was as rapid as his attack: he was joined by his parties on the road as he retired, and ascended to Singhar amidst a blaze of torches, which made his triumph visible from every part of the Mogul camp. This exploit, so congenial to the disposition of his countrymen, is the one of all his actions of which the Marattas still speak with the greatest exultation. It was attended with consequences that could scarcely have been foreseen; for Shaista Khan imputed his danger to treachery on the part of Raja Jeswant Sing, who had, not long before,

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Prince Moazzim sent against him

been sent to reinforce him; and the dissensions of the leaders crippled the army, until Aurangzib removed Shaista Khan to the government of Bengal, and sent his son, Prince Moazzim, to command, with the assistance of Jeswant Sing. Before the prince’s arrival, Jeswant had withdrawn to Aurangabad, after an attempt to reduce Singhar; and Sevaji was preparing to take a full retaliation for the attack he had been exposed to. During his operations in the mountains, his chief force was in his infantry; but the Marattas had been distinguished in the Bijapur armies for their services as light cavalry, and it was in this shape that Sevaji now resolved to employ them.

Sevaji plunders Surat

After gaining intelligence of the state of affairs where he was going, and deceiving his enemies by various feigned movements, he suddenly set off with 4000 horse, and came at once on the rich and defenceless city of Surat, in a part of the country which was thought to be beyond the reach of his arms.

5 January 1664, AH 1074, Jamadi Second 15

He plundered it at leisure for six days; and though beaten off from the English and Dutch factories, where some of the native merchants had also taken refuge, he carried off an ample booty, and lodged it in safety in his fort of Reri, or Raighar, in the Concan.

Death of Shahji

His Possessions in the south of India

It was soon after this expedition that Sevaji heard of the death of Shahji. Although of a great age, he was killed by a fall in hunting. He had restored his jagir to perfect order, and had extended his conquests to the southward (under the name of the king of Bijapur), until they comprehended

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the country near Madras and the principality of Tanjore.

Maritime exploits of Sevaji

February 1665

Sevaji was now again at war with Bijapur, and chiefly carried on his operations in the Concan, where he had established his capital at Raighar. He collected a fleet, took many Mogul ships, and on one occasion embarked with a force of 4000 men on 87 vessels, and, landing at a remote point in the province of Canara, sacked Barcelor, a wealthy sea-port belonging to Bijapur, and plundered all the adjoining tract, where there was not the slightest apprehension of a visit from such an enemy. Nor did he, during these employments, leave the country quiet above the Ghats: he sent troops to ravage the territory of Bijapur, and led, in person, a destructive inroad into the Mogul dominions. This injury did not exasperate Aurangzib so much as the capture of some vessels conveying pilgrims to Mecca, and the violation of Surat, which derives a sort of sanctity from being the place of embarkation for those devotees.

Sevaji assumes sovereignty

Sevaji had added another provocation to these offences: soon after his father’s death, he had assumed the title of raja, and began to coin money, one of the most decisive marks of independent sovereignty.

Raja Jei Sing sent against him

A large army was therefore sent to the Deckan, at the head of which was Raja Jei Sing, the constant engine in all difficult affairs with Hindus; but the emperor’s suspicious temper made him still adhere to the system of divided authority, and Dilir Khan was associated on equal terms in the command. These appointments

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superseded Jeswant Sing and Prince Moazzim, who returned to Delhi. As Aurangzib anticipated little opposition from Sevaji, Jei Sing had orders, as soon as he should have reduced the Maratta, to employ his arms in the conquest of Bijapur.

Submission of Sevaji, 1665.

These chiefs crossed the Nerbadda in February, and advanced unopposed to Nina, when Jei Sing undertook the siege of Singhar, and Dilir Khan that of Purandar. Both places held out; but Sevaji seems himself to have despaired of successful resistance; and he may, perhaps, have looked to some recompence for the temporary sacrifice of his pride, in the advantages he might gain by cooperating with the Moguls against Bijapur. He opened a negotiation with Jei Sing; and, after receiving assurances, not only of safety, but of favour, from the emperor, he privately withdrew himself from his own army, and went, with a few attendants, to the raja’s camp. He was received with great distinction, and on his part made the humblest professions of fidelity. An agreement was concluded, by which Sevaji was to give up twenty out of the thirty-two forts he possessed, together with the territory attached to them. The remaining twelve forts, with their territory and all his other possessions, he was to hold as a jagir from the Mogul emperor, in whose service his son Sambaji, a boy of five years old, was to receive the rank of a commander of 5000. In addition to these advantages, Sevaji was to be entitled to a sort of

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per centage on the revenue of each district under Bijapur; and this grant was the foundation of the ill-defined claims of the Marattas, which afforded them such constant pretexts for encroachment on foreign territories in later times. These terms, except the last (which was not noticed), were distinctly confirmed in a letter from Aurangzib to Sevaji.

He co-operates with Jei Sing against Bijapur

He now joined the imperial army with 2000 horse and 8000 infantry; and the whole body commenced its march on an invasion of Bijapur.

The Marattas distinguished themselves in this campaign, and Sevaji was gratified by two letters from Aurangzib; one complimenting him on his services, and the other containing great but general promises of advancement, and inviting him to court, with a promise that he should be allowed to return to the Deckan.

Goes to Delhi

Won by these attentions, and by the cordiality with which he was treated by Jei Sing, Sevaji made over his jagir to three of his chief dependents, and set off for Delhi, accompanied by his son Sambaji, and escorted by 500 chosen horse and 1000 Mawalis.

Haughty reception by Aurangzib

Aurangzib had now an opportunity of uniting Sevaji’s interests to his own by liberal treatment, and of turning a formidable enemy into a zealous servant, as had been done before with so many other Hindu princes: but his views in politics were as narrow as in religion; and, although he could easily suppress his feelings to gain any immediate advantage, he was incapable of laying aside his prejudices, or making such full and free concessions,

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as might secure permanent attachment. Moreover, he despised as well as disliked Sevaji: he felt the insults offered to his religion and his dignity the more, because they came from so ignoble a hand; and he so far mistook the person he had to deal with as to think he would be most easily managed by making him sensible of his own insignificance.

Accordingly, when Sevaji was about to enter Delhi, an officer of inferior rank was sent, on the emperor’s part, along with Ram Sing, the son of Jei Sing, who went out to meet him; and his reception, when he came to court, was conducted in the same spirit. Sevaji performed his obeisance, and presented his offerings, in the most respectful manner, and probably intended to have made his way, as usual, by suppleness and humility; but when he found he was received without notice, and placed, undistinguished, among the officers of the third rank281, he was unable any longer to control his feelings of shame and indignation; he changed colour, and, stepping back behind the line of courtiers, sank to the ground in a swoon. When he came to himself, he reproached Ram Sing with the breach of his father’s promises, and called on, the government to take his life, as it had already deprived him of his honour. He then retired, without taking leave, or receiving the honorary dress usual on such occasions282. Aurangzib was

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not prepared for this decided conduct; he ordered Sevaji’s motions to be watched, while he professed to wait for a report from Jei Sing as to the promises he had really made to him.

From this time, Sevaji’s whole thoughts were turned to the means of making his escape, which was soon rendered more difficult by guards being posted round his residence. He applied for leave to send back his escort, with whom he said the climate of Delhi did not agree; and, as this arrangement seemed to leave him more than ever in the power of the government, it was willingly agreed to. He next took to his bed on pretence of sickness, gained over some of the Hindu physicians who were allowed to attend him, and by their means established a communication with his friends without. He also made a practice of sending presents of sweetmeats and provisions to be distributed among fakirs and other holy men, Mahometan as well as Hindu; and thus accustomed his guards to the passage of the large baskets and hampers in which those donations were conveyed.

Sevaji escapes from confinement

At length, one evening, when he had concerted his measures with those without, he concealed himself in one of the hampers, and his son in another, and was carried out unquestioned through the midst of the sentinels. His bed was occupied by a servant; and a long time elapsed before his escape was suspected. In the mean time, he repaired to an obscure spot, where he had a horse posted, mounted it with his son behind him, and made the best of

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his way to Mattra. At this place were some of his chosen companions in assumed characters; and he himself put on the dress of a Hindi religious mendicant, shaving off his hair and whiskers, and rubbing over his face with ashes. In this disguise he pursued his journey by the least suspected roads, to the Deckan, leaving his son at Mattra in charge of a Maratta Bramin.

Arrives at Raighar

December 1666

It must have required much address to elude his pursuers, who had a long time to be prepared for him before he made good his retreat to Raighar. He reached that place on his return, nine months after his departure for Delhi283.

Death of Shah Jehan

December 1666, AH 1076, Rejeb

Soon after Sevaji’s flight died Shah Jehan. Though always confined to the citadel of Agra, he had been treated with great respect, and allowed an ample establishment and complete authority within the palace. He carried this control so far as to prevent the removal of Dara’s daughter, whom Aurangzib wished to marry to a son of his own; and also to withhold some valuable crown jewels which the emperor was anxious to possess: on these subjects, several letters of remonstrance and expostulation passed between him and his son.

Prosperous state of Aurangzib’s empire

This was the most prosperous period of the reign of Aurangzib. Every part of his own dominions was in the enjoyment of perfect tranquillity. His governor of Cashmir had just brought Little Tibet

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under his authority; and his viceroy of Bengal made an acquisition of more real value in the fine country of Chittagong, on the eastern shore of the Bay of Bengal.

He had also received marks of respect from most of the neighbouring powers. The sherif of Mecca, and several other princes of Arabia, sent embassies; as did the king of Abyssinia, and the khan of the Uzbeks. The most important came from the king of Persia, and was returned by an embassy of unusual splendour. But this last interchange of missions did not lead to permanent friendship; for some questions of etiquette arose between the monarchs, which led to so much irritation on the part of Shah Abbas II., that he assembled an army in the neighbourhood of Candahar; and Aurangzib was thinking seriously of moving in person against him, when he heard of the shah’s death, and the discontinuance of all his preparations.

Failure of Jei Sing’s attack on Bijapur

The only exception to the general prosperity of the empire was the ill success of its army in the territory of Bijapur. Jei Sing’s operations in that country had at first gone on to his wish; but as soon as he had formed the siege of the capital, the old plan of defence was adopted against him: the surrounding country was reduced to a desert, and all his supplies were cut off by plundering horse. The king of Golconda also secretly assisted his neighbour; and Jei Sing, perceiving that he had no chance of success, retreated, not without loss and difficulty, to Aurangabad. He was removed

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His death

after this failure, and died on his way to Delhi. Prince Moazzim was sent to replace him, with Jeswant Sing to assist: Dilir Khan, who was unacceptable to the prince as well as to the raja, was left as an additional check on both.

Return of Prince Moazzim and Jeswant Sing

1667, AH 1077

Progress of Sevaji

Jei Sing’s misfortune was of the utmost importance to Sevaji. During his struggle and retreat he had withdrawn all his troops from the country near the Ghats, had evacuated many forts, and left others with scarcely any garrisons. Many of these were occupied by Sevaji’s officers before he himself reached the Deckan; and his own arrival was speedily followed by still more extensive acquisitions.

The change in the Mogul commanders was yet more to Sevaji’s advantage. Jeswant Sing had a great ascendency over Prince Moazzim, and was much better disposed to the Hindus than to the government which he served; and it was, moreover, believed that he was not inaccessible to the influence of money.

He makes peace with the emperor

By these means combined, Sevaji enlisted him on his side; and, through his and the prince’s aid, obtained a peace with Aurangzib on terms exceeding his most sanguine hopes. A considerable portion of territory was restored to him, and a new jagir granted to him in Berar. His title of raja was acknowledged, and all his former offences seemed to be buried in oblivion.

Levies tribute on Bijapur and Golconda

Thus delivered from his most powerful enemy, Sevaji turned his arms against Bijapur and Golconda;

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and those states, weak within, and threatened by the Moguls, were unwilling to enter on a new contest with their formidable neighbour, and averted the evil by the humiliating expedient of agreeing to an annual tribute.

His internal arrangements

1668 and 1669, AH 1078 and 1079

A long period of tranquillity which followed was employed by Sevaji in giving a regular form to his government; and none of his military successes raise so high an idea of his talents as the spirit of his domestic administration. Instead of the rules of a captain of banditti, we are surprised to find a system more strict and methodical than that of the Moguls. The army, both horse and foot, was formed into uniform divisions, commanded by a regular chain of officers, from heads of ten, of fifty, &c. &c., up to heads of 5000, above which there was no authority except that of the general appointed to command a particular army; and these officers were not feudal chiefs, but servants of the government, placed over soldiers mustered and paid by its agents. Both troops and officers received high pay, but were obliged to give up their plunder of every description to the state. The most minute attention to economy pervaded every department of Sevaji’s service.

His civil government was equally regular, and very vigorous, both towards its own officers and the heads of villages; and this, in checking oppression of the cultivators, no less than frauds against the state. His civil officers were all Bramins, and

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those of the highest rank were often employed in military commands also.

Schemes of Aurangzib to entrap Sevaji

The real motive of Aurangzib’s concessions was the hope of getting Sevaji again into his power, without the expense and damage of a protracted war with him. He pursued his object with his usual patience, enjoining Prince Moazzim and Jeswant Sing to keep up a constant intercourse with Sevaji, and let slip no opportunity of making him their prisoner. They were even directed to feign disaffection to his own government, and to show a disposition for a secret and separate alliance with the Marattas284.

1670, AH 1080

But Sevaji turned all the emperor’s

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plans against himself: he conciliated Moazzim and Jeswant by bribes and presents, and made them his instruments in deceiving Aurangzib.

Aurangzib breaks the peace

That monarch was too sagacious not to discover in time the failure of his scheme; and when he had ascertained it beyond doubt, he gave orders for an open attempt to seize Sevaji, which of course involved a renewal of the war.

Sevaji surprises Singhar

The first blow struck by Sevaji was the recovery of Singhar, near Puna. The Moguls were as sensible as he was of the importance of this place, and maintained in it a strong garrison of Rajputs, under an experienced officer. Yet it was surprised by 1000 Mawalis, under Sevaji’s great friend and confidant, Tanaji Malesri, who contrived to climb up that apparently inaccessible rock in the night-time, and to escalade the walls, before they were discovered by the guards. They, however, met with an obstinate resistance; and it was not without the loss of their leader, and a large proportion of their number, that they at length

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overpowered the garrison. Sevaji was so much impressed with the difficulty and importance of the undertaking, that he conferred a silver bracelet on every individual of the survivors.

Ravages the Mogul territory

December 1670, AH 1081


He failed in some attacks on other forts, but reduced a much greater number, and occupied much territory: he also again plundered Surat, carried his ravages over Candesh, and, for the first time, levied the chout, afterwards so celebrated in Maratta history. It was a permanent contribution of one fourth of the revenue, and exempted the districts that agreed to it from plunder as long as it was regularly paid. Sevaji also equipped a powerful fleet, and renewed his attacks on his old enemies, the Abyssinians of Jinjera, who held a small principality as admirals to the king of Bijapur. This attack was injudicious; for it led to the Abyssinians placing themselves under the Moguls, and thus increasing the power of Sevaji’s only formidable enemy.

The rapidity of Sevaji’s progress was owing to the inadequacy of the force under Moazzim, whom Aurangzib long refused to reinforce from distrust: and when, at last, he was convinced of the necessity of having more troops in the Deckan, he sent down an army of 40,000 men, under Mohabat Khan, and quite independent of the prince’s authority.

1671, AH 1081

Nor was he by any means entirely satisfied even with this new commander: shortly before his march from Delhi he took offence at some of his proceedings, and ordered one of the

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ministers to remonstrate with him in private. The arrival of his army was attended with no corresponding result. Moazzim remained inactive at Aurangabad; and Mohabat Khan, after undertaking some sieges, was obliged to suspend his proceedings by the approach of the rainy season.

Defeats the Moguls in a field action

When he again began operations, Sevaji sent an army to raise a siege in which Mohabat was engaged, and the latter, in an injudicious attempt to cover the siege, exposed a body of 20,000 men to a total defeat by the Marattas285.

1672, AH 1082

This was the first field action won by Sevaji’s troops, and the first instance of success in a fair conflict with the Moguls.

Khan Jehan made viceroy of the Deckan

Suspension of active operations in the Deckan

It seems to have made a strong impression on the beaten party: they immediately concentrated their forces on Aurangabad, and both Moazzim and Mohabat were soon after recalled; Khan Jehan, the viceroy of Guzerat, was sent to take their place; Aurangzib’s exertions were required in another quarter, and the war languished for a period of several years.

Aurangzib occupied by a war with the north-eastern Afghans

What drew off Aurangzib’s attention was, the increasing importance of a war which had for some time been going on with the north-eastern Afghans. It was always a matter of difficulty to remain at peace with those tribes; but, as the communication with Cabul and other western countries lay

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through their lands, it was necessary to find some means of keeping them quiet; and as the tribes upon the road were also the most open to attack, it was generally managed, between threats and pensions, to retain them in a certain degree of submission to the royal government. The more powerful tribes were let alone, and remained quiet within their own limits. But, from the numerous small communities, and the weakness of the internal government even in the large ones, there must often have been acts of aggression by individuals, which required forbearance on the part of the royal officers. As Aurangzib was very jealous of his authority, and as he knew nothing of the structure of society among the Afghans, it is not unlikely that he suspected the chiefs of countenancing these irregularities underhand; but, from whatever cause it proceeded, he fell out with the whole of the tribes, even including the Eusofzeis. This was the state of things in 1667, when Amin Khan, the son of the celebrated Mir Jumla, and the successor to his rank and title, was appointed governor of Cabul, and gained such success as for a time prevented the disturbances increasing, although they never were entirely suspended. But, in 1670, the Afghans regained their superiority, defeated Amin Khan in a great battle, and totally destroyed his army: even his women and children fell into their hands, and were obliged to be redeemed by the payment of a ransom.

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The Afghans, about the same time, set up a king, and coined money in his name286.

About January 1673, AH 1083, Ramzan

The emperor at last determined to conduct the war in person. He marched to Hasan Abdal, and sent on his son, Prince Sultan, whom he had now released and intrusted with the command of an army. He probably was prevented going himself by the fear of committing his dignity in a strong country, where great blows could not be struck, and where great reverses might be sustained.

From January 1673 to October 1675, AH 1083, Ramzan to AH 1086, Jamadi 2, or thereabouts

This war occupied Aurangzib for more than two years287, and was carried on through his lieutenants after his own return to Delhi, until the increased disturbances in India, and the hopelessness of success, at length compelled him to be contented with a very imperfect settlement. But although the contest was of such importance at the time, it had no permanent influence on the history of India; and the events of it, though varied and interesting, may be imagined from those already related under the reign of Akber288.

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Aurangzib returns to Delhi

1676, AH 1087

Insurrection of the Satnarami religionists

The emperor had scarcely resumed from this unsuccessful expedition when an extraordinary insurrection broke out near the capital. A sect of Hindu devotees, called Satnaramis, were settled near the town of Narnol: they were principally engaged in trade and agriculture; and, though generally peaceable, carried arms, and were always ready to use them in their own defence. One of their body, having been mobbed and beaten by the comrades of a soldier of the police, with whom he had quarrelled, collected some of his brethren to retaliate on the police. Lives were lost, and the affray increased till several thousand Satnaramis were assembled; and the chief authority of the place having taken part against them, they defeated a band of troops, regular and local, which he had got together; and finally took possession of the town of Narnol. An inadequate force sent against them from Delhi was defeated, and served only to add to their reputation; a repetition of the same circumstance raised the wonder of the country; and, joined to their religious character, soon led to a belief that they were possessed of magical powers: swords would not cut, nor bullets pierce them; while their enchanted weapons dealt death at every

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blow. The belief that they were invincible nearly made them so in reality. Many of the zemindars of the neighbourhood took part with them; no troops could be got to face them; and as they approached Delhi, Aurangzib ordered his tents to be prepared to take the field, and with his own hand wrote extracts from the Koran, to be fastened to the standards, as a protection against enchantment. The absolute necessity of resistance, and the exertions of some chiefs both Mussulman and Hindu, at last prevailed on the royal troops to make a stand, when the insurgents were defeated and dispersed with great loss. But the previous success had tempted many of the Hindu population to take up arms, and had thrown the whole provinces of Ajmir and Agra into such confusion that Aurangzib thought his own presence necessary to restore order289.

Aurangzib’s bigotry

These disturbances had irritated his temper, already ruffled by his failure beyond the Indus; and led him, while he was still in Delhi, to take the last step in a long course of bigotry and impolicy, by reviving the jezia or capitation tax on Hindus.

At the second anniversary of his accession (1659), he forbade the solar aera, as an invention of fire worshippers, and directed the Mahometan lunar year to be used on all occasions; and in this resolution he persevered, notwithstanding long-continued remonstrances from his official

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people, on the disadvantage of a calendar that did not agree with the seasons290.

His vexatious treatment of the Hindus

At the same time he appointed a mullah, with a party of horse attached to him, to suppress all drinking and gambling houses, and to check all ostentatious display of idol worship291. Not long afterwards, he abolished all taxes not expressly authorised by the Mahometan law, and all duties on goods sold at the great Hindu fairs, which he considered as polluted by their original connection with idolatry. His remissions, as far as they were carried into effect, were productive of great inequality; the unauthorised taxes being chiefly those that fell on bankers, great traders, and other inhabitants of towns, whom the new rule would have left nearly exempt from contribution. The land revenue remained as before; and the customs and road duties, which were by much the most vexatious of all, were rather increased than diminished292.

But, in fact, the alteration produced a heavy loss to the state, without affording any relief to the subject; except in a few cases where the exaction was likely to attract notice, the revenue officers and jagirdars confined the remission to their accounts with the government, and levied the taxes without diminution on those under their authority. Some years later he forbade fairs on Hindu festivals

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altogether; and about the same time he issued an edict against music, dancing, and buffoons, and discharged all the singers and musicians attached to the palace. He likewise forbade astrology, and dismissed the astrologers previously attached to the court. He also discountenanced poets, who used to be honoured and pensioned; and abolished the office and salary of royal poet. It is even distinctly related that he prohibited the composition and recitation of poetry293; but this extreme austerity must have been of very short duration, for his own notes and letters are filled with poetical quotations, and sometimes with extemporary verses made by himself. His prohibition of history was more permanent; he not only discontinued the regular annals of the empire, which had before been kept by a royal historiographer, but so effectually put a stop to all record of his transactions, that from the eleventh year of his reign, the course of events can only be traced through the means of letters on business and of notes taken clandestinely by private individuals. A few years later he took off one half of the customs paid by Mahometans, while he left those of Hindus undiminished. Among other minute reforms, he made further changes in the mode of saluting him; and discontinued his public appearance at the window of his palace, for fear of affording an opportunity for the ceremony of adoration. Though few of these alterations bore directly

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on the Hindus, they all tended to stir up a scrupulous and captious spirit, and to mark the line between the followers of the two religions which it had been the policy of former monarchs to efface.

His present measures were far more decidedly intolerant; for, although he began with an equitable edict, by which all claims on the government were to be received in the courts, and tried according to the Mahometan law, yet, at the same time, a circular order was sent to all governors and persons in authority to entertain no more Hindus, but to confer all the offices immediately under them on Mahometans only.

It was found quite impracticable to comply with this order; and, in fact, most of the above edicts remained a dead letter, and had no other effect but to excite alarm and disaffection.

He revives the jezia, or poll tax on infidels

But no such laxity appeared in the levy of the jezia. The poll tax so called was imposed, during the early conquests, on all infidels who submitted to the Mahometan rule, and was the test by which they were distinguished from those who remained in a state of hostility. The revival of it excited the utmost discontent among the Hindus. Those at Delhi and the neighbourhood assembled in crowds, and besieged the king’s palace with their complaints and clamours. No attention was paid to these remonstrances. On the next Friday, when the king was going in procession to the mosque, he found the streets completely choked

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by the crowd of suppliants. He waited some time in hopes that a passage might be opened by fair means; but as the mob continued to hold their ground, he ordered his retinue to force their way through; and many persons were trampled under foot by the horses and elephants. This harsh conduct was successful in striking terror, and the tax was submitted to without further demur.

General disaffection of the Hindus

1677, AH 1088

The effects of these fanatical proceedings were not long in showing themselves. At the beginning of this reign, the Hindus served the state as zealously as the Mussulmans; and that, even when employed against people of their own religion; but their attachment declined as they had experience of the new system; discontent spread among the inhabitants of the emperor’s own dominions; the Rajputs began to be disaffected; and every Hindu in the Deckan became at heart a partisan of the Marattas294.

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Oppressive measures against the children of Raja Jeswant Sing

These religious animosities were kindled into a flame by an event which took place a few months after the imposition of the jezia. Raja Jeswant Sing died at Cabul, leaving a widow and two infant sons. The widow immediately set out for India without leave or passports; and, on her being stopped at the Indus, her escort made an attempt to force the guard at Attok, and afterwards did effect their passage by some neglected ford. This violence afforded a pretext for Aurangzib to get the children into his power. He refused them admission into Delhi, and surrounded their encampment with his troops.

They escape from Delhi

But on this occasion the Rajputs united considerable address to their accustomed courage. Their leader, Durga Das, obtained leave to send off part of the escort with their women and children to their own country: along with this party he despatched the rani and her infants in disguise, while he substituted two children of the same age for the young princes, and employed one of her female attendants to personate the rani; all which was rendered more easy by the privacy of the

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women’s apartments. In spite of these precautions many hours had not elapsed before Aurangzib’s suspicions were awakened, and he sent orders that the rani and her children should be brought into the citadel. His fears for their actual escape were for the time removed by the obstinacy of the Rajputs, who refused to give up the widow and children of their raja, and declared themselves ready to die in their defence. His attention was now occupied in overcoming their resistance: troops were sent against them, whom they gallantly repulsed; at length, after the loss of the greater part of their number, the supposed rani and her family were seized, while Durga Das and the survivors dispersed for the time; and, again assembling at a distance, retired to their own country. Their protracted defence had given time for the rani to effect her escape. She arrived in safety in Jodpur, and her eldest son, Ajit Sing, lived to enjoy a long reign over Marwar, and to be a formidable enemy to Aurangzib for all the rest of that monarch’s life. His identity, however, was long exposed to question; for Aurangzib, with his usual adroitness, received the supposititious children as the undoubted issue of Raja Jeswant Sing, directed them to be honourably treated, and afterwards employed their pretensions in aid of his attacks on Jodpur.

Combination of the Rajputs

This outrage towards the family of one of their body, combined with the imposition of the jezia, disposed the Rajputs to unite in their own defence. Raja Ram Sing of Jeipur or Amber, whose family

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was connected with that of the emperor by so many intermarriages and the distinguished services of several generations, retained his attachment even at the present crisis; but Raj Sing, rana of Oudipur or Mewar, entered heartily into the cause of the children of Jeswant Sing, and at the same time peremptorily refused to agree to the jezia.

The emperor marches against them

The whole of the western part of Rajputana being now opposed to him, Aurangzib assembled an army and marched to Ajmir295.

January 1679, AH 1089, Zi Haj

Grants favourable terms to the rana of Mewar

From that place he sent on detachments to ravage Marwar; and, with his main army, he made so great an impression on the rana as to reduce him to send in overtures of submission. He was allowed very favourable terms: a small cession of territory being accepted in lieu of the jezia, and no other sacrifice demanded but a promise not to assist Jodpur.

This arrangement concluded, the emperor returned to Delhi, having been absent less than eight months296.

The rana breaks the peace

July 1679, AH 1090, Rajab

He had scarcely reached his capital, when he learned that the rana had broken the treaty (probably by giving secret assistance to Jodpur,), and before many months were over he again set out for Ajmir. On this occasion, he put forth his utmost strength and applied all his energy to the speedy suppression of the combination against him. He summoned Prince Moazzim from the Deckan and Prince Azim from Bengal; and at a later period he ordered the viceroy of

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Guzerat to invade the Rajput territory from that quarter also. But the principal attack was made by his own army, which was sent under Prince Akber (assisted by Tohavvar Khan) direct to Oudipur, while the rana, intimidated by the forces which threatened him on all sides, abandoned his capital, and took refuge in the Aravelli mountains. He was pursued into his retreat by Akber, who left a detachment behind him to ravage the open plains. Prince Moazzim had by this time reached Ujen, and was ordered to adopt the same course; and Prince Azim, on his arrival, was directed against the Jodpur territory and the adjoining part of the rana’s.

Devastation of the Rajput territory

Their orders were, to employ part of their troops to cut off all supplies from the fugitives in the hills; and with the rest to lay waste the country, burn and destroy the villages, cut down the fruit trees, and carry off the women and children; so as to make the enemy feel all the evils of war in their utmost severity.

Permanent alienation of the Rajputs

It is consistent with Aurangzib’s character to suppose that these inhuman orders were dictated by an unfeeling policy alone; but his religious prejudices and his hatred of opposition make it probable that anger and revenge also had an influence even on his calculating temper. Whatever were the motives, the effect was to complete for ever the alienation of the Rajputs. They were afterwards often at peace with Aurangzib’s successors, and they sometimes even furnished their contingents, and professed their allegiance; but their service

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was yielded with constraint and distrust, very unlike the zealous attachment which formerly made them the prop of the monarchy.

During all this time, the Rajputs kept a body of 25,000 horse, chiefly Rahtors of Jodpur, in the field, with which, aided by their infantry in the hills, they occasioned much distress and some danger to their adversaries: they cut off convoys, attacked detachments, defended favourable positions, and sometimes gained important advantages by surprises and night attacks. But Durga Das, who still acted a prominent part in their councils, did not trust to force alone for the deliverance of his country. He endeavoured to open a negotiation with Prince Moazzim, and to draw him off from his allegiance by offers to support him in possessing himself of the crown.

Prince Akber joins the Rajputs with his army

These prospects seem, for a time, to have had some charms even for Moazzim, a prince of mature years, and next in succession to the throne; but on his rejection of them, they were eagerly embraced by Prince Akber, the youngest of the brothers, who was then only twenty-three, and who, in his boyhood, had been considered as the chosen heir of his father297. He at once entered into Durga Das’s views; and although Prince Moazzim warned the emperor of the plots which were going on, yet Aurangzib was attached to Akber, whose youth, he thought, prevented his being dangerous, and at the same time,

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he entertained the greatest jealousy of Moazzim himself.

Is proclaimed emperor

He therefore set down his information to envy, or some worse motive, and took no step to guard against Akber’s infidelity, until he heard that Durga Das was encamped beside him, and that he had assumed the title and all the functions of a king. Tohavvar Khan became his prime minister; Majahid Khan, another great nobleman, also accepted of an office; and the rest of the army, destitute of a leader, continued submissive to the authority which they had been accustomed to obey.

Marches against Aurangzib

Aurangzib had sent all his troops on different detachments; and had scarcely 1000 men with him at Ajmir, when he heard that Akber was in full march against him. He instantly called in Moazzim, with as many of his troops as he could assemble; but they produced nothing capable of opposing Akber, now at the head of 70,000 men.

Dangerous situation of the emperor

Aurangzib’s situation seemed hopeless; and, to render it still more desperate, he gave way to his old suspicions of Moazzim, and ordered his guns to be pointed on that prince’s division.

His presence of mind

But he did not lose his penetration even in this perplexity: conjecturing that the bulk of Akber’s army had been surprised into revolt, rather than led to it by any real disaffection, he sent an officer of ability, who was brother to Majahid Khan, with a small body of horse, to get as near as he could to the enemy, and try to open a communication with his brother. Majahid, who had never sincerely united with Akber, took the first opportunity of coming

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over to his brother.

Defection of Akber’s army

His example was followed by other chiefs; and the general inclination was so evident, that Tohavvar Khan, when next day sent out with the advanced guard, came forward as if to engage with that opposed to him; and at once passed over to the emperor’s side.

It is not clear whether there was a real or affected suspicion that he came over with treacherous intentions; or whether, which is extremely improbable, he really did entertain such designs; but a report was set on foot, that he intended to assassinate the emperor, and, on his refusing to give up his arms, force was used, and he was cut down close to the royal pavilion.

Akber flies to the Marattas

Meanwhile, his desertion, and that of so many other men of all ranks, struck the Rajputs with dismay; and, finding themselves left to oppose the whole Mussulman army, they thought it necessary at last to attend to their own safety; only Durga Das remaining, with 3000 horse, to protect Prince Akber on his retreat. That prince was left with scarcely a single Mahometan soldier; and all he could expect from the Rajputs was to be allowed to share in their privations.

1681, June 1

He therefore resolved to seek an asylum with the Marattas; and, eluding pursuit by a march through the hills into Guzerat, he made his way to the Concan, and arrived in safety, still escorted by Durga Das, with 500 Rajputs298.

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Protracted war with the Rajputs

But the war with Mewar and Hagar, though it had returned into its old channel, continued unabated. The Moguls went on with their ravages: the Rajputs retaliated by similar inroads into Malwa; and having, at length, caught the spirit of intolerance from their persecutors, they plundered the mosques, burned the Koran, and insulted the mullahs. The chief sufferer by this system of hostility was the rana of Oudipur, whose fertile territory lay nearest the Moguls, and was occupied by their troops; while the remote and barren tracts under Jodpur were less exposed to such an impression. Aurangzib himself was desirous of putting an end to a struggle which withdrew him from more important affairs; and, by his contrivance, the rana was induced to make overtures, which were immediately and favourably received. The jezia was passed over in silence, the small cession formerly made in lieu of that impost was now given as a penalty for having assisted Akber; but all the other articles were favourable to the rana, whose honour was saved by a clause promising the restoration of Ajit Sing’s country to him when he should come of age299. This treaty allowed Aurangzib to draw off his army, without discredit, to the Deckan, where its presence could no longer be dispensed with; but it did little towards the real restoration of tranquillity. The western Rajputs were still in arms; the war with

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the rana was renewed at no distant period, and the whole of the Rajput states, except Jeipur and the little principalities towards the east, continued in a state of open hostility till the end of Aurangzib’s reign. The capitals remained in the hands of the Moguls; but, though the dissensions among the Rajputs prevented their making solid acquisitions, they still severely harassed the troops in their own country, and often laid waste the neighbouring provinces300.


280. See p. 416.

281. Commanders of 5000, the station which had been promised to his infant son.

282. Khafi Khan.

283. The English factors at Carwar, in the Concan, write, September 29th, If it be true that Sevaji has escaped, Aurangzib will quickly hear of him to his sorrow.”

284. Grant Duff. He, however, doubts whether Moazzim ever gave in at all to the emperor’s design, and whether he ever attempted to deceive Sevaji by a show of disaffection; but it seems probable that he must, to a certain extent, have conformed to his instructions; and that it was his consequent proceedings that gave rise to the story first told by Catrou (or Manucci), of a mock rebellion of Prince Moazzim, got up by his father’s desire, for the double purpose of finding out his secret enemies and of discrediting his son, in case that prince should ever be disposed to rebel in earnest. According to this account, Prince Moazzim openly declared against his father, and was joined by Jei Sing and all the rest of the army, except Dilir Khan, and had actually marched to the river Chambal (towards Agra), before he professed to renounce his design. The only use (it says) made by Aurangzib of the knowledge obtained at so great a hazard was, to secure himself against one of his enemies by poisoning Jei Sing. But Jei Sing had been removed from the Deckan before the prince’s arrival, and was dead before the date of the pretended insurrection. This last inconsistency was discovered by Orme, who does not doubt the rest of the story; but the absurdity of the whole is laid open in a few words by Grant Duff (vol. i. p. 221.). It is not the only occasion in which the wily character of Aurangzib has led to his being suspected of deep schemes and intrigues in which he never was engaged. Dow substitutes Jeswant Sing for Jei Sing, and makes Moazzim’s rebellion a real one, which, he says, was only frustrated by a succession of skilful operations on the part of Dilir Khan, after Aurangzib himself had been obliged to take the field. He seems to draw his account from the “Bondela Memoirs,” afterwards translated by Scott (Deckan, vol. ii. p. 24.); but he goes beyond his authority in some things, and omits the Bondela’s statement (doubtless an erroneous one) that Sevaji actually joined the prince.

285. There are doubts about this battle, which some say was with a detachment of Dilir Khan’s, and others, of Mohabat’s. The obscurity arises from the same cause as the defeat, – the divided command of the Mogul army.

286. The Indian writers seem to consider this person as an Afghan chief; but such a nomination is equally inconsistent with the feelings and institutions of that people; and (although the authority is, no doubt; inferior) I am inclined to believe, with the Europeans, that the pretended king was an impostor, who was passed off for Shuja, whom the Afghans represented to have taken refuge among them, and whose pretensions to the throne of India would furnish good means of annoying Aurangzib.

287. Khafi Khan.

288. This war derives additional interest from the picture of it preserved by one of the principal actors. Khush Khal, the khan of the tribe of Khatak, was a voluminous author, and has left several poems, written at this time, for the purpose of exciting the national enthusiasm of his countrymen. They are remarkable for their high and ardent tone, and for their spirit of patriotism and independence, so unlike the usual character of Asiatics.

289. Khafi Khan.

290. Khafi Khan.

291. Ibid.

292. Ibid.

293. Khafi Khan.

294. Khafi Khan. The general sentiment of the time is well shown in a letter to Aurangzib, commonly ascribed to Jeswant Sing. It cannot be his work; for it is the letter of an open enemy, whose dominions are about to be invaded; and Jeswant Sing was serving against the Afghans when the jezia was imposed, and continued beyond the Indus till his death: it must, besides, have been written at a later period, after the decline of the empire had become apparent. It is also assigned to Raj Sing, ram of Oudipur, as well as to a raja named Subah Sing; and the Marattas claim it for Sevaji (Grant Duff, vol. i. p. 219.). It is not improbable that it is the work of some private Hindu politician, who chose this way of publishing a sort of manifesto against the government. It is not destitute of ability. It maintains the principles of toleration, which are violated by the jezia; exalts the liberality of the former princes of the house of Teimur; and contrasts the flourishing state of the empire in their time with that of the present reign; when men of all classes and religions are discontented, the revenue gone to ruin, the people oppressed and yet the treasury empty, the police neglected, the cities insecure, and the forts falling into decay. A translation of this letter is given in “Orme’s Fragments,” p. 252. A closer translation, with the Persian, was published by Mr. Weston, in 1803.

295. Khafi Khan.

296. Ibid.

297. Bernier, vol. i. p. 193.

298. Letters from Bombay, quoted in Orme’s “Fragments,” p. 267.

299. Orme’s Fragments, p. 106. Tod’s Rajasthan, vol. i. p. 388.

300. Tod’s Rajasthan, vol. ii. p. 69, &c. Colonel Tod’s account of the transactions subsequent to the treaty is probably rectified from the Mahometan newspapers (akhbars) of the day, which he mentions were in his possession. It is certainly quite un like the Rajput legends; being distinct and consistent, and constantly referring to dates, which coincide with those of events related by other authors.

This collection transcribed by Chris Gage
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